Ray Parker Jt – I’m Free, Ghostbustes, Carter Baron, Detroit, Jack and Jill, Other Woman
A few Notes on Ray Parker Jr
I spent the bulk of the afternoon watching Ray and the band practicing. The band was full of "crack musicians" from the west coast including former members of Ray Parker’s original band, "RAYDIO", the Miles Davis Band and other notables. However this group of musicians had only played together twice before yesterday, so they needed the extra time together.
The rehearsal lasted for THREE HOURS!!!
As I watched & listened in the blistering heat at the Carter Baron all afternoon I was impressed. Ray, as the bandleader was literally teaching this group of musicians the songs and explaining exactly how each part of each song should be played on each instrument. He made adjustments to the sound on the monitors as well as the arena speakers, he even attempted to repair a broken bass pedal. The whole time that he was doing this he was also practicing his own parts. He performed each song multiple times, using both the guitar and the baby grand piano. He told the band members that he wasn’t sure which instument that he was going to use for each song, that he would probably switch back and forth at will and that they should be prepared for both.
On the way back to the hotel, after rehearsal, Ray Parker was driving around Washington DC looking for a music store so he could buy a new bass pedal…
Later that night during the actual concert, there was a lady that scream at one point: "A Real Musician, we don’t have that anymore". She knew what she was talking about. Ray Parker Jr. is one of the best I have ever seen…
–Bob Davis (8/2006)
CD Review: Ray Parker Jr.- "I’m Free"
Taken from Ray Parker Jr’s Official Bio – Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, and Producer Ray Parker Jr. had hits as Raydio (the million-selling Jack and Jill, You Can’t Change That), Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio (Two Places at the Same Time, A Woman Needs Love [Just Like You Do]"), Ray Parker Jr. (the number one R&B and pop gold single "Ghostbusters"), and co-wrote hit songs for Rufus and Chaka Khan (the number one "You Got the Love" from fall 1974) and Barry White ("You See the Trouble With Me" from spring 1976).
In a summary that is the sum total of our knowlege about Mr. Ray Parker Jr. We all know that he has had a substantial career as a soul/funk/pop music artist and is perhaps is as well known/popular as any single artist in the history of Black music. As you listen to the new album "Im Free" permit yourself to temporaraly suspend from your mind all that you previously know about Mr. Ray Parker Jr. That’s what I did.
Instead remember this simple fact: Ray Parker Jr. – born on May 1, 1954. That was important for me as I listened, because Ray Parker Jr. is just three years older than I am and unlike other "Classic Soul" artists (who are closer in age to my parents).
Ray Parker Jr. and his new album "I’m Free" is speaking directly to me as an individual. In fact after listening to the album for the 4th or 5th time (I’ve lost track…..lol), I am convinced that although I have never met him, Mr. Ray Parker Jr. is indeed one of my long lost friends from High School.
"I got a letter from your lawyer today, Ordering me to sign my life away. Instead of signing on the dotted line, I poured myself another glass of wine…"
–Glass of Wine
"Met her at the car wash, She was half of my age or more
With her was a young child, From a lover that she had before
I’m not quite sure how it came about, But we started talking bout the rent
All she needed was a little love, And said my money would be well spent"
—Middle Age Crisis
"People say that sex is just sex, And a kiss is just a kiss
I don’t belive it, Cuz I ain’t never had it done like this"
"All my friends are laughing, Saying it’s a middle aged crisis
They don’t understand, I don’t give a damn
Cuz I ain’t never had it done like this"
–Middle Age Crisis
"I saw you driving my Mercedees Benz, Don’t you look cozy sitting next to him…"
–Glass of Wine
Now these types of lyrical concerns are about as far removed from the content of "Ghostbusters" or "Jack n’ Jill" as one could get, aren’t they? This is a serious album of SERIOUS ADULT MUSIC, containing well extremely crafted songs, featuring great singing, lyrics and awesome jazz, r&b, rock, blues and latin guitar playing from one of the most gifted performers of his generation.
"I’m Free" by our friend Ray Parker Jr. contains the type of jazz, r&b, rock, blues and latin guitar playing that Black men who are around 50 would like as well. On some cuts Ray Parker Jr sounds like Santana, on some he sounds like BB King, on some he sounds like Hendrix on some he sounds like Wes Mongomery. I mean we always knew that Ray Parker Jr. was a GREAT guitar player, but on this album he demostrates that he actually should be talked about with the all time greats on that instrument. For example, the title track "I’m Free" is blistering blues/rock track that can hang with the best of Stevie Ray Vaughn/Fabulous Thunderbirds.
But it also sounds just like the kinds of discussions Black men (and probably white men as well) my age have with each other when their wives aren’t around. In fact this album could be used as the soundtrack for a movie called "The 50+ Men’s Club". Some of it is humorous, some of it is painful, but in the end it sounds like a catharsis for Ray Parker Jr. lyrically, musically and personally. And if that is the case, I couldn’t be any happier for my "new friend", Mr. Ray Parker Jr.
"How long has it been, since your last confession
Forgive me father, For I have sinned
I’ve fallen short, Of your glory once again
What’s even worse is that, I’ll probably do it again"
Concert Review Review: Ray Parker Jr. – Original Black Byrds & Mike Stevens Project (8/2006)
All I can say is that the show at The Carter Baron last night was Jazzy and Funky all rolled into one.
The Mike Stevens Project, a jazz ensemble, that features Mike on tenor sax, opened the show with renditions of Michael Jackson’s "I Can’t Help It", "People Make The World Go Round" and Frankie Beverly’s classic, "We Are One". The Smooth Jazz of this group was very appealing and sexy indeed.
DC Councilman, Vincent B. Orange Sr. read Proclamation from the city, honoring The Black Byrds for the 30th anniversary of the song, "Rock Creek Park". Councilman Orange always wears Orange and he had on a Orange shirt and jacket.
The Original Black Byrds opened with "You Can Be A Black Byrd Flyin High", "Hold Me Tight, Don’t Let Go" the beautiful song "Soft & Easy" and "I like To Party". We really did Party and celebrated their 30th Anniversary of "Rock Creek Park", the song they ended their set with.
Ray Parker Jr. with guitar in hand, opened with The Beatles "Come Together" and then "Jack & Jill" his first recording. His show accelerated from "You Can’t Change That" to Parliament Funk. That’s when I stopped writing.
One lady screamed, " A Real Musician, we don’t have that anymore". Ray was at the piano singing and playing, "A Woman Needs Love Just like You Do", then Ray left the stage and came into the audience, the ladies went wild. He let the ladies hug, kiss and dance with him. He was very personable. He played songs from his new CD "Free". I really liked, "Mexico" it has a Jazzy Spanish flavor. "I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost" Ray closed with Ghostbusters.
After the show, Soul Patrollers – Peaches, George, JJ, and I hooked up with Bob, and had a nice short discussion about the show. Ray came out signed CD’s and took pictures with us. What a Great Show. Be sure to catch Ray Parker Jr, The Black Byrds and the Mike Stevens Project whenever they come to your area.